Acid attack in Russia — The artistic director of Russia’s famed Bolshoi Ballet was attacked by an assailant who threw acid in his face, police and theater officials said Friday. The assault followed what a colleague said were several weeks of threats and intimidation. Sergei Filin was about to enter his home in downtown Moscow just before midnight Thursday when a masked stranger called him by his name and then flung the acid, Bolshoi’s spokeswoman Yekaterina Novikova said. Filin, 42, suffered third-degree burns to his face and damage to the corneas of his eyes.
Operation will promote Obama agenda — A new political operation created to advance President Barack Obama’s agenda in his second term will be allowed to raise unlimited money and accept corporate contributions, but officials said Friday the donations will be disclosed. Obama for America, the organization that mobilized the president’s supporters during his two races for the White House, now has a new name: Organizing for Action. The aim of the group, which will be overseen by an inner circle of former campaign advisers, will be to promote Obama’s policies and to give Democratic activists and other allies a way to rally behind his agenda.
Obama approval rating — President Barack Obama begins his second term Sunday with Americans cautiously optimistic about both the years ahead and his stewardship, but more polarized politically than four years ago and with less lofty hopes. Obama retains the approval of a slim majority of Americans, 51 percent, according to a pre-inauguration survey for The New York Times and CBS News. That is down from 62 percent soon after he took office four years ago, and conceals a sharp divide: 8 in 10 Republicans disapprove of how he is handling the job, while almost 9 in 10 Democrats approve. Independents are split.
Myanmar cease-fire — After weeks of intense fighting near the border with China, the Myanmar government Friday announced what appeared to be a unilateral cease-fire in its offensive against ethnic Kachin rebels. The government also said it would pursue peace talks. The announcement came only hours after Parliament approved a resolution calling for an end to a year and a half of fighting and as Myanmar’s actions have come under increased international scrutiny.
TSA body scanners — The Transportation Security Administration said Friday that it will begin removing the controversial full-body scanners that produce revealing images of airline travelers from airports beginning this summer. The agency said it canceled a contract, originally worth $40 million, with the maker of the scanners, Rapiscan, after the company failed to meet a congressional deadline for new software that would protect passengers’ privacy.
Nagin indicted — Former New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, who was the combative and determined face of his city crushed beneath the floodwaters spawned by Hurricane Katrina, has been indicted on bribery and related charges, officials announced on Friday. The charges stem from an ongoing corruption investigation of Nagin’s two terms in office beginning in 2002.
7-year-old finds gun in backpack — The mother of a 7-year-old who took a handgun to his public elementary school in Queens was arrested Friday, the police said. Deborah Farley, 53, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child along with several other weapons-related charges. Farley, according to the police, admitted Friday morning that she had placed a handgun, ammunition and a flare gun in her son’s Batman backpack Wednesday night and then forgot to take them out before he went to school the next morning.